Nurse Practitioners without work experience as an RN: How did you fare?


Hello! I'm a senior in high school for the 2016-17 year and I wish to become a Nurse Practitioner. For undergraduate school, I may be able to either:

1.) Go to a community college on a full ride for my Associate's in Applied Science, take the NCLEX-RN, and then transfer to earn my BSN in the next two years (where I most likely will not be offered a plethora of scholarship money)


2.) Go to a four-year college on a full-ride and take the NCLEX-RN

Subsequent to either of these routes toward a BSN, I plan on matriculation into a BSN-MSN program in hopes of becoming an NP. However, I know most graduate programs require at least one year of experience as an RN.

I am conflicted and quite honestly confused at the decision I should make.

I am not sure whether I should:

1.) Graduate with my Associate's at the community college level, then go on to earn a Bachelor's; pile up more debt but in turn, allow myself to gain RN experience that may help and push me ahead of the curve as an NP (as I may be able to work part time as an RN while completing my BSN).


2.) Earn a BSN debt free, but enter a BSN-MSN program with no experience working as an RN.


3.) Earn a BSN debt free, but take a year off school to work as an RN before enrolling in a BSN-MSN program.

Honestly, while the third option may seem more practical, for myself it is not so much as desireable. I know that if I work as an RN for a year, I may be content with my standing and not want to go back to school and further my education. Even if I still have the motivation, I would like to finish school as quickly as possible while obtaining the most knowledge of the field.

So I guess I have quite a few questions here.

1.) If you became a Nurse Practitioner without RN work experience, how did you do in the work place? Were employers reluctant to hire?

2.) If you became Nurse Practitioner without RN experience, which school did you attend for your MSN?

3.) If you became a Nurse Practitioner with RN work experience, how do you think it has benefitted you?

4.) In your opinion: a longer period of time to become an NP and more experience and more debt? A shorter period of time to become an NP, less experience and less debt? (This is an extremely ridiculous question, I know, but I need the most help and opinion that I can get)

5.) Any other advice for someone faced with the decision in which I am?

I'm sorry if this was a lengthy question or if the details were a little confusing. If anyone needs clarification of anything please let me know. I am just completely conflicted with a decision that I will make in the next 6 or 7 months that will affect my educational path for the next 6 or 7 years.

Thank you so much for all of

your time! I appreciate it beyond measure!


232 Posts

Based on your post, the sole motivation for you entering the field of nursing is a hypothetical future where you work as an NP. I think you should take the scholarship BSN route, if only because it is the minimum level of education for most staff nursing jobs.

Look, any university will take your money, provided you meet their admission criteria. However, getting an MSN without any bedside RN experience may make you unhirable. You will have an MSN degree and a nurse practitioner license, but no nurse practitioner experience, making it harder for you to find an NP job. You will also still have no RN experience, which will make it nearly impossible to get a bedside nurse job. Even then, what manager would want to hire someone who is a licensed NP, just so they can quite as soon as they get an offer?

Please just get your BSN, work for a year or two before applying to grad school.

Subjective comments:

I firmly believe that working as an RN in your 20's gives you the best quality of life in the US. You make good money and have tons of time to have fun. Most NPs work boring 9-5 jobs. Don't rush into the boring 9-5 life when you can live it up working as an RN while getting some valuable knowledge and insight into nursing.

allnurses Guide

BCgradnurse, MSN, RN, NP

1 Article; 1,678 Posts

Specializes in allergy and asthma, urgent care. Has 14 years experience.

I am a NP who has not worked as an RN. I had no trouble finding a NP job and I have had a great career so far as a NP. That being said, I went into nursing in my mid 40s. I had a lot of life and work experience that helped me be successful in school and in my career as a NP. I had always worked in health care and knew for certain I wanted to do direct patient care. I would likely have taken a different route had I gone into nursing school right out of high school. I think you should go for the BSN program and work to see if you even like nursing, and then go for your MSN after you gain some work/life experience. What is your rush? Enjoy your time in college and then work for a while. Travel, have fun, do whatever for a few years. You're only young can go back to school anytime.

I never had any RN experience before my MSN direct entry program, but I had experience in a psychiatric setting as a psychologist. My classmates also never had any RN experience but 95% had really interesting backgrounds--some completely NOT health care related and most had been out of college for a few years (although some were right out of college). So far, no one seems to be having any trouble once they graduate with the MSN getting a job. In my program you sit for the nclex sometime around the 2- (early) 3rd year--there are some students who do work as RNs during those final semesters, but not many from what I've seen.

My best advice is to 1) choose the program where you will get the best education and then 2) choose the program that will cost the least. Once you're in the nursing program you'll have a better sense of where you want to progress to, or if you want to take some time to work first.

Trauma Columnist

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN

153 Articles; 21,232 Posts

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU. Has 31 years experience.

Moved to prenursing


17 Posts

Thanks for your input! Just to reiterate, when I say I would like to get done with school quickly, I mean that I would like to get school without going through the hassle of going back at a time later when I could be finished. It just seems optimal for me, and my parents think so as well.